We're all teachers of all years now. Let's embrace it

Adapting to teach children across the age range has been a shock to the system, but it should open our eyes to the benefits of mixing things up, says Ginny Bootman

Ginny Bootman

The Church of England is encouraging primary schools to teach sex education

Covid has brought many challenges for teachers. 

One of the greatest has been working with children from different ages groups, in different environments, with different colleagues.

During lockdown, I visited our MAT hub on a number of occasions to teach the children of key workers.

They were in an environment with children and adults they didn’t ordinarily know. And they were often not in school full-time: they dipped in and out of the system alongside the shift patterns of their key worker parents.

Endless changes

There was great discussion between colleagues to ensure that staff got to know the children who were entrusted to them prior to meeting them in the hub.

The expertise of staff has been phenomenal. Not only have they had to teach children across the age range of 3 to 11, but also get to know them as individuals, often at short notice and without much guidance.

One day I happened upon a child who had only begun in the school after lockdown. He was in a new environment with new people and those people changed daily. 

That is either a huge adventure, or mountain to climb, depending on how you view it.

As soon as he entered his new environment, he decided to test the boundaries. He wanted a battle. I didn’t. So I listened and listened and listened. And then he listened.

And then something amazing happened. He began to trust me because I listened and I valued him. As he left, he said he couldn't wait to come back the next day.

Adapting and evolving

There has had to be so much flexibility from staff.

I'm a key stage 2 teacher, but I have suddenly been faced with looking after three-year-olds.

I've seen Year 6 children thriving in the freedom of sticking and gluing without direction. I've seen inhibitions lost as an older child helped another child undertake an activity.

This whole experience has broadened our skillsets and made us braver as professionals.

We have an opportunity now to consider how we teach the children in our care. Are they best taught in set age groups or should we allow times for ages to mix?

Perhaps we should consider our own preferences and think about teaching the same subject to a variety of age groups?

If one teacher is keen and has skill in art, while another has in PE, why not swap classes and allow the children to experience this enthusiasm?

I’m not saying that this doesn't already happen. But let's be braver and try things that fill everyone with joy. Where there is joy and happiness there is true learning.

We are teachers of all years

We can inadvertently become compartmentalised into a certain age group simply because we have taught that age group for years.

I was very fortunate to be asked to move from Year 6 to Reception a few years ago. It was the best CPD I have ever received. 

Let’s all be brave and embrace our inner four-year-old, whoever we're teaching.

Now is the time to spread our wings and say we are all teachers of all years.

Ginny Bootman is a SENCO and class teacher of Evolve MAT in Northamptonshire. She tweets @sencogirl 

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